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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Google bosses convicted over abuse video of Down’s syndrome boy

Three Google bosses were today convicted of violating the privacy of a boy with Down's syndrome in a ruling that could also affect websites such as YouTube and Facebook.
The men received suspended six-month sentences after the internet giant allowed a video of the teenager being abused to be posted online.
Google said the ruling by an Italian court set a “dangerous precedent” and raised major questions over the future of websites where people regularly upload information.
“This is the biggest threat to internet freedom we have seen in Europe,” said MP Tom Watson. “The only people who will support this decision are Silvio Berlusconi and the governments of China and Iran. It effectively breaks the internet in Italy.”
Google today vowed to appeal, saying in a statement: “We are deeply troubled by this conviction, it attacks the very principles of freedom on which the internet is built.”
Two executives, David Drummond and Peter Fleischer, and former employee George Reyes were accused of negligence. Prosecutors said the video remained online for two months even though some web users had posted comments asking for it to be taken down.
Judge Oscar Magi absolved the three of defamation and acquitted a fourth defendant altogether.
Mr Drummond, who is Google's chief legal officer, vowed to fight his conviction. He said: “I am outraged by the decision … If individuals like myself and my Google colleagues who had nothing to do with the harassing incident, its filming or its uploading onto Google Video can be held criminally liable solely by virtue of our positions at Google every employee of any internet hosting service faces similar liability.”
The case stems from an incident in 2006 when four boys in Turin filmed and uploaded a 191-second clip of them bullying a schoolmate with Down's syndrome. It shows the youths making fun of the boy, before punching and kicking him. One of the attackers then makes a mocking call to Viva Down, an advocacy group for people with Down's syndrome. The complaint was brought by the charity and the boy's father. “The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police,” Google said.
“We also worked with the police to help identify the person responsible for uploading it and she was sentenced to 10 months community service, as were several other classmates.”

Originaly posted on This is London Website